em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) , em- \
embezzled; embezzling\ im-​ˈbe-​zə-​liŋ How to pronounce embezzling (audio) , -​ˈbez-​liŋ , em-​ \

Definition of embezzle

transitive verb

: to appropriate (something, such as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use embezzled thousands of dollars

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Other Words from embezzle

embezzlement \ im-​ˈbe-​zəl-​mənt How to pronounce embezzlement (audio) , em-​ \ noun
embezzler \ im-​ˈbe-​zə-​lər How to pronounce embezzler (audio) , em-​ , -​ˈbez-​lər \ noun

Did You Know?

English has a lot of verbs that mean to steal - some more specific than others. "Pilfer," "purloin," "rob," "swipe," "plunder," "filch," and "thieve" are some noted examples. "Embezzle" differs from these by stressing the improper appropriation of property to which a person is entrusted - often in the form of company funds. First appearing in English in the 15th century, embezzle derives via Middle English from the Anglo-French embesiller, meaning "to make away," formed from the prefix en- and the verb besiller, meaning "to steal or plunder." Related to "embezzle" is "bezzle," a verb used in some British English dialects to mean "to waste or plunder" or "to drink or eat to excess."

Examples of embezzle in a Sentence

He was caught embezzling money from his clients. He was convicted of embezzling.
Recent Examples on the Web The reportee in this case is the regional property manager, who represents the company and advised an ex-employee (while employed with the company as a property manager) embezzled rent money from the company. Houston Chronicle, "Bellaire Police Department weekly report," 2 Dec. 2019 Prosecutors accused him of abusing his position to embezzle state money. Vanessa Gera, Twin Cities, "Former Polish president served on Burisma board with Hunter Biden. Here’s what he says about it.," 29 Nov. 2019 Ladd embezzled money to pay for her personal bills and expenses, including her credit cards, the plea agreement says. Eric Heisig, cleveland, "Ravenna woman admits to stealing $490,000 from employer, using money to pay credit card bills," 19 Nov. 2019 Kentucky’s Louisa Community Bank had weak policies and high management turnover, according S&P Global Market Intelligence; an employee reportedly pleaded guilty to embezzling $45,000 from the lender earlier this year. John Detrixhe, Quartz, "Three US banks have gone bust in recent weeks, after a failure-free 2018," 18 Nov. 2019 Ruelas stands accused of embezzling $184,651.46 from Staffing Partners, Inc., 2835 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa from April 2014 through May 2019. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "He pretended to be his brother to get a job. Then he embezzled $184,000, police say.," 1 Nov. 2019 Federal investigators probing the bank as part of the Emerald case found that Jeffrey Suspenzi, then an assistant vice president of the bank, had embezzled nearly $500,000 from a client’s line of credit. David Heinzmann, chicagotribune.com, "Video gambling owner pitching racetrack casino is in business with family whose financial ties to mob figures sunk Rosemont casino," 11 Oct. 2019 But, sea pirates have been only one part of the fuel embezzling crisis. Fox News, "Mexican pirates posing greater risk in Gulf of Mexico to oil workers, tourists," 1 Oct. 2019 Best eventually filed a civil lawsuit in Miami, in 2014, alleging that Peggy had embezzled more than $2 million from his accounts. Alex Prewitt, SI.com, "She Won Athletes' Hearts. And Robbed Them Blind," 19 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'embezzle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of embezzle

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for embezzle

Middle English embesilen, from Anglo-French embesiller to make away with, from en- + besiller to steal, plunder

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Time Traveler for embezzle

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The first known use of embezzle was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Embezzle.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/embezzle. Accessed 15 December 2019.

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More Definitions for embezzle


How to pronounce embezzle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of embezzle

: to steal money that you have been trusted with


em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) \
embezzled; embezzling

Kids Definition of embezzle

: to steal (money or property) despite being entrusted to take care of it The banker embezzled money from his customers.
em·​bez·​zle | \ im-ˈbe-zəl How to pronounce embezzle (audio) \
embezzled; embezzling

Legal Definition of embezzle

: to convert (property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use — compare defalcate

Other Words from embezzle

embezzlement noun
embezzler noun

History and Etymology for embezzle

Anglo-French embeseiller to make away with, from en-, prefix stressing completion + beseller to snatch, misappropriate, from Old French, to destroy

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delight or enjoyment

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